In 2017, two Category 5 hurricanes struck the Caribbean within
two weeks of each other. Hurricane Maria landed on the independent island of
Dominica at 9:35pm on September 18th with winds up to 160 mph and higher gusts.
80% of the population was directly affected and 90% of roofs were damaged or
destroyed. An initial response team arrived in the country 3 months after the
disaster and through a series of assessments with the Ministry of Education
began working on the Paix Bouche Primary School in the north. Paix Bouche is 21
miles north of the capital of Roseau. The town is situated on top and within a
valley leading to the western Caribbean sea. The school’s roof was completely
destroyed rendering it’s effectiveness as a hurricane shelter useless. The majority
of the windows and hurricane shutters were torn from the building. Paix Bouche
lost both it’s sole primary school and hurricane shelter.
With the help of engineer Oluwaseun Okunsanya, Wynyard
Esprit, and Engineers without Borders, we designed a new roof, replaced all of
the hollow CMU blocks with reinforced CMU, redesigned windows, doors, and
redesigned a new first floor layout. The buildings columns and beams were the
only things that remained of the original building. It is now recognized as a
hurricane shelter and got students back to school in September just for the
start of the new year. We fully renovated the adjacent stage and bathroom block. As well as assessing other schools in the area, I
managed the project during construction working closely with the Ministry of
Education and Engineers without Borders throughout the project.